Days of Porotos Granados


Screenshot_2017-03-05-16-55-01                                                                   cranberry beans and aji


 Back in January I visited Chile and the Secano Interior lands with dry farmed old vines and great history. The info is plunked into this April's issue of TFL, devoted to the campesinos making pipeños don't know what that is? Well, sign up and find out. But there were outtakes to my story and a summer dish of beans and beauty was one of them  

During the stay I was treated to several homemade versions of a soup or a stew that was a staple, Porotos Granados. Delicious.

You'll see it everywhere. It's like the jonjoli of Georgia -- you can't have a meal or gathering without seeing it on the table. It's so welcoming with big sheets of sliced corn from a local variety that is as thick as a giants forearm. Beautiful sure but the taste is uncommonly intense for the simplicity of the ingredients. 

One of the first I sampled was at an impromptu picnic in Roberto Henriquez's vineyard-- from extremely talented hands.



IMG_0717                                                                                            To the left is the chef, Felipe Macera. The right, the talented winemaker  Marcelo Retamal. 


Another soupish stew came to my bowl through Manuel Moraga's charming life partner,  the flaming-haired Paola Marini, who kindly sent me this recipe. 

Paola's Portos Granados
We use a fresh summer bean, that is planted for this meal named Juanita or Pajarito the mostly known , planted in farms and small  vegetable gardens  to cook this traditional plate at Summer time. 
+ 1/2 kilo summer fresh beans (cranberry beans)
+4 medium sweet corn kernels  ... 3 grated of the cob  and  1 cut off the cob to get a milky solution ... 
+a squirt  of milk
+1 liter and 1/2 water
+Onions  chopped in small cubes
Olive oil
+Thyme   (Chascudo in Chilean)
+Aji  Cacho de Cabra (this is a small fresh hot picked pepper)
fresh from the stem
+Small pinch of ground black pepper
+Ground red pepper
+ Salt
Heat the olive oil and add the  onions ,black pepper, ground red pepper ...the whole  fresh hot aji split open but whole and about 15 sprigs of thyme.
Put in the beans stir for a minute and add the corn and the liter of cold water. Once it boils, you might want to add a bit more of water and boil softly for a liquid finish  .. add the squirt of milk.
It should take about 3/4 of a hour until beans are ready .
That's it.
Note: I have seen red squash or pumpkin added or the thyme replaced with basil, or some cumin seed. Put the squash in with the beans. And remember, just add enough water to cover. 

Paola kind of cheats at lunch by making a pesto to go with her porotos. Well, she is Italian, after all.



Wine Reviews: Values from Chile & Argentina

Chile and Argentina have been producing slick, tasty, inexpensive wines for a long time. When I first started (legally) tasting and exploring wines after college, I bought up lots of bottles from producers like Catena, Trivento and Concha y Toro. They were attractive for their inexpensive prices and easily identifiable labels, the grape variety stuck on there front and center.

Fast forward a decade, and these producers are still standard bearers for South American accessibility. With large production levels and wide availability in many markets, these bottles comprise a cheap crash course in South American vino.

I found nothing novel or exciting in this bunch. These wines won’t leave you contemplating your existence. But for $12-$25, Chile and Argentina still deliver.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Review: 2014 Concha y Toro Chardonnay Casillero del Diablo Reserva - Chile, Casablanca Valley
SRP: $12
Light gold color. Green and yellow apples and pears, some honey and toasted almond notes, hints of white flowers. Medium-bodied, moderately-clean acid, simple yellow apples and pear fruit, kiwi. Moderate levels of toasted nut and honey butter, but still clean. Not too clunky or tropical, but not too complex either.

Review: 2013 Concha y Toro Malbec Casillero del Diablo Reserva - Chile
SRP: $12
Bright purple colored. Deep and plummy, smells of spiced blackberry jam, notes of coffee and loamy soil, sweet vanilla and milk chocolate. Juicy and ripe but tart, with chewy tannins, medium-low acid. Black cherries, dark plums, cola, toasted oak and coffee mix with dark chocolate shavings and a loamy, charcoal element. Darker flavors but a bright and drink-me-now personality.

Review: 2013 Anderra Cabernet Sauvignon - Chile, Central Valley
SRP: $11
Light purple color. Aromas of juicy black cherries, raspberries, cola, sweet vanilla and hints of earth. Soft tannins on the palate, medium acid, tart but chewy red berry fruit mixed in with elements of cedar, toast, coffee and hints of that Chilean loamy soil and roasted coffee. Fun, a good introduction to Chilean Cabs, but not too deep or complicated. Good for the price.

Review: 2013 Anderra Carménère - Chile, Central Valley
SRP: $11
Light purple color. Tart berries on the nose (black and red cherries and berries), some black pepper, tobacco, soy and toasted oak. Juicy on the palate with light-to-medium tannins, medium acid. The black cherry and plum fruit is topped with spicy pepper, roasted coffee, chicory and chestnut, notes of smoke and toasted oak mixed in. A yummy wine but showing a lot for this price point.

Review: 2013 Trivento Torrontés Reserve - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $11
Pale straw color. Bursting aromatic display: white grape jelly, canned peach juice, kiwi and honey. Crisp acid, medium-body, a tangy white but juicy tropical fruit (white peach, apricot, guava, mango) notes of white flowers and grapefruit pith, a slight green herb (oregano? celery seed?). Richly tropical, very floral.

Review: 2013 Trivento Chardonnay Amado Sur - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $15
Medium straw color. Nose of green pears and lemon, some honeysuckle and nettle notes, hints of spice (maybe white pepper?). Crisp and clean palate, medium-bodied, the fruit is green and crunchy, backed up by notes of honeysuckle, lemon verbena and white pepper. Interesting stuff, I could see mistaking this for a Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s a bit more tropical and not as green. Still, fun, refreshing stuff. 70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Grigio and 10% Viognier.

Review: 2014 Alamos Torrontés - Argentina, Salta
SRP: $13
Light yellow-straw color. So floral (honeysuckle, orange blossom, magnolias), some pineapple, mango and lychee. Moderate acid, a juicy feel to the palate, the wine is laced with flowers and baby’s breath. The lychee, mango and guava fruit is rich but not too bold, as the wine maintains a bright appeal. Not too complex, but a great mix of freshness and tropical lushness. If you’re looking to discover Torrontés, this is a great place to start.

Review: 2013 Trivento Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $11
Deep purple color. Nose of blackberry and blueberry jam, rich but also floral, some loam and vanilla coffee notes. On the palate, silky tannins, medium acid, medium+ body, a smooth yet rich wine. Black currant, blueberry and blackberry jams all mixed together, add in some coffee, vanilla and dark chocolate shavings. Fun stuff, drink now, a solid value.

Review: 2013 Alamos Malbec - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $13
Light purple color. Jammy black cherries, dark plums and rich, juicy blackberries on the nose, notes of earth, vanilla and sweet violets. Medium-bodied, silky tannins, moderate acid. The fruit is juicy and ripe (blueberry, black cherry, dark plums), but it shows some tartness as well. Earthy, woodsy, pine sap, vanilla cola and coffee. Sweet coffee and dark chocolate on the finish. Impressive structure and quite balanced. Alamos reliability right here. Includes 6% Syrah and 4% Bonarda.

Review: 2013 Alamos Malbec Selección - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $20
Light purple color. Deeper aromatics than the regular Alamos bottling, more blackberry, some blueberry, noticeably smoky and earthy with a solid dose of pepper black pepper and soy sauce. Medium+ bodied with velvety tannins and slightly less than medium acid. The blueberry, blackberry and cassis fruit is juicy but tamed. Quite complex in terms of the smoke, charcoal, vanilla, black tea and black pepper notes. Impressive finish, very good for the price. Aged in French and American oak for 9-12 months.

Review: 2014 Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón Malbec Don Miguel Gascón - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $15
Deep ruby color. Aromas of juicy black and red berry fruit, a nice smoky, campfire and earthy aspect to this wine as well, some sweeter vanilla and toast elements. Medium-full-bodied, some moderate acid for freshness, the tannins are fine but offer light structure to the wine. The blackberry and blueberry fruit is juicy and plush, laced with notes of loamy soil, campfire and roasted nuts, some sweeter toast and floral notes. Quite good for the price.

Review: 2012 Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón Malbec Don Miguel Gascón Reserva - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $25
Deep purple color. Smooth and rich on the nose, with saucy black cherries, blueberries and blackberries, a deep sense of rich soil, violets and mocha. Full-bodied, solid tannic structure, medium-low acid, the fruit is rich and chewy but the wine maintains a smooth presence on the palate. Flavors of violets, dark roast coffee, baker’s chocolate, vanilla and cedar last long onto the finish. A bit heavy with the toast, but backed up with some gutsy fruit and interesting earth elements. Includes 6% Petite Verdot.